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The Dragon Round-Up: Hatters are mad for their Welshmen

There will be two new Welshmen in the Premier League next season – one the manager and the other the centre-back and captain at Luton Town.

Rob Edwards will make it two Welsh managers in the top flight when he joins Nottingham Forest’s Steve Cooper in the most lucrative league in the world.

And provided he makes the hoped-for full recovery after collapsing on the field during the Hatters’ Wembley play-off victory over Coventry City, alongside Edwards will be his skipper Tom Lockyer.

The 28-year-old from Cardiff fell down with no-one near him early in the game, as he was running, and needed medical treatment before he was carried from the pitch on a stretcher.

Thankfully, Lockyer was well enough to post updates later on social media, including a picture of him celebrating with his family from his hospital bed.

Luton and their captain have yet to give any more details around his collapse, but the hope is that he is able to resume his career in time for Luton’s first Premier League match in August.

More could emerge on Tuesday, when Wales manager Rob Page is due to name his squad for the upcoming Euro qualifiers against Armenia and Turkey – a group that Lockyer would have expected to be in as he was part of the squad that went to the World Cup in Qatar last November and remained there for the opening two Euro games against Croatia and Latvia.

Edwards admitted the concern for Lockyer meant he was unable to fully celebrate at the final whistle.

“It was mixed because of Locks (Lockyer), that’s why I couldn’t really go for it celebrating,” said Edwards.

“I’m just so thankful that he’s okay because that’s all that matters.”

So, one player should – hopefully – add to the ranks of Welsh players in the Premier League next season, but two members of Page’s World Cup squad are dropping down to the Championship.

Leeds United’s defeat at home to Tottenham ruined any hope of avoiding relegation, so Dan James – who has been on loan at Fulham for the season – will go back to Leeds and become a Championship player, as he was when he was at Swansea City.

Of equal disappointment to Page will be the relegation suffered by Leicester City, which means his first choice goalkeeper, Danny Ward, will also be dropping down a level.

At Wembley, Joe Taylor saw a Luton winner ruled out just before spot-kicks, with Fankaty Dabo’s sudden-death miss sealing a 6-5 shoot-out triumph that propelled Luton back into the top-flight for the first time since 1992.

The dramatic triumph means the Hatters will welcome Manchester City and Co just nine years after facing the likes of Salisbury and Hyde in the Conference Premier.

Geraint Thomas had to settle for a runners-up place at the Giro d’Italia after the pink jersey was snatched away from him on the penultimate stage by winner Primoz Roglic.

But anyone who believes the Welsh cycling legend is about to call it a day needs to think again.

Another 37-year-old, former Wales rugby captain Alun Wyn Jones, may have retired from international rugby last week but the man they all call “G” has no plans to stop pedaling.

He will be out of contract with Ineos Grenadiers at the end of the year but has indicated he wants to continue for a minimum of two more seasons.

“I’m still competitive, I still love racing and I enjoy the argy-bargy of a sprint sometimes. I’ll just keep doing it as long as I love it,” said Thomas.

“I’ll try and sort out the future in the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to do more than two (years) I don’t think but saying that, I said I wouldn’t go on after this year.”

Welsh rugby has not had much to applaud this season, which is why the success of Nick Tompkins is a reason to celebrate.

The Wales centre is a champion over the border in England after playing his part in helping his club Saracens win the Gallagher Premiership final with a 35-25 win over Sale at Twickenham.

Tompkins spent some time on loan with the Dragons when Saracens were relegated for breaking financial regulations.

But he was always keen to return to one of the most successful clubs in Europe and the 28-year-old – who was raised in Kent – has slotted back in seamlessly.

Tompkins said: “When I was at the Dragons, I thought about what Saracens meant to me in my gut, I really felt strongly that I wanted to be here.

“And in the end, that was the right decision. You can’t underestimate stability of enjoyment and the level of coaching – you take it all into account.”

Tompkins’ victory meant the Wales centre made amends for last season’s last-gasp final defeat by Leicester to deliver his club’s first silverware since they were relegated for salary-cap breaches in 2020.

It was also the perfect sign-off to the domestic season, before one of Wales coach Warren Gatland’s most underrated performers links up with the national squad for their World Cup preparations.

Two Just Stop Oil protestors brought a halt to the final in the first half when they ran on to the pitch to throw orange paint powder before being led away by stewards amid jeers from the crowd.

A penalty try and scores from Max Malins, Elliot Daly and Ivan van Zyl helped the London side to victory in blazing sunshine, aided by 13 points from the boot of player-of-the-match Owen Farrell.

A day later at Twickenham, another Wales international finished on the winning side when Jones led the Barbarians to a 48-42 victory over a World XV, coached by former Wales chief Steve Hansen.

Jones showed some superb skills and impressive fitness in an adventurous end-of-season showpiece, just a week after announcing his shock retirement from international rugby.

He has yet to confirm whether or not he plans to play on for the Ospreys next season, but will definitely be in the Barbarians team that plays at Swansea on Wednesday at St. Helen’s as the club marks its 150th anniversary.

Jones said: “There’s a lot of life left in me. Whether that’s in rugby, I don’t know yet.”

While Thomas has vowed to bounce back from defeat, so, too, have Glamorgan’s cricketers who lost their Vitality T20 Blast match to Somerset at the weekend.

A four-wicket defeat has left Glamorgan with a one win and one loss record from their opening two games.

“We’ve got to be smarter through that latter middle phase of our innings and accelerate with as little risk as possible which is the jeopardy of T20 cricket,” said head coach Mark Alleyne.

Glamorgan were also paying tribute at the weekend to their former bowler Lawrence Williams, who died at the age of 76.

Williams was a member of the legendary 1969 Glamorgan team that won the County Championship.

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